Originally written in TACKED THOUGHTS for The Freeman last January 6, 2013
by Nancy Unchuan Toledo

Sweaty and desperate, Indiana Jones hovers at the edge of the cliff. Below him, he sees, or doesn’t see rather, the chasm. In front of him, the other edge of the cliff—too far away to jump to, even if he is the great Indiana Jones. He looks at his father’s journal: “Only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth,” it says, along with a picture of man walking on air. “Impossible,” Indy mutters, “nobody can jump this.” Just then, his friend tells him to hurry, as his father, having been shot in the stomach, doesn’t have much time left. Unless he continues on his quest for the Holy Grail, his father will die. “Some leap of faith,” Indy complains. The scene cuts to his father, “you must believe, boy,” he says in between deep, painful breaths, even if his son can no longer hear him. Mustering his resolve, Indy takes several steadying breaths, closes his eyes in silent prayer, puts his hand over his wildly beating heart and leaps into the abyss…

Miraculously, he finds that his feet land on solid ground. It was, after all, only an illusion. The ground was merely painted to look like a part of the chasm in order to test those brave enough to take up the quest. But it had been there all along.

Leaps of faith are strange things. You never know where you’re going to land or how you’re going to land. Which is probably why I’ve taken so few Indiana-Jones-leaps-of-faith in my life. I’m more of a Tarzan than an Indy really. I swing from vine to vine rather than leap. I make sure that I have something to hold on to before I let go of the other vine. I am constantly making plans and plan B’s. There is always the next step, the next phase, the next project.

But for the first time in a really long time, I look at the chasm that is 2013 and find that I must take a leap into the unknown. I squint my eyes and attempt to focus on a plan or other but it all seems so muddled with uncertainty. It’s not empty. It’s just unclear. I stretch out my hands to grasp something, a plan or a project to make me feel in control, but there seems to be nothing there. And this realization would have been enough to send me into a real panic attack had I not forced myself to quiet down in prayer.

I realized that I had to welcome the seeming emptiness in order to make peace with it. I couldn’t push the thought away or think it away or plan it away. I just had to accept it for what it was, for what it is.

And what is it really, this chasm that I am so afraid of? An opportunity to exercise faith? Yes. An openness to the Divine Will? Yes. A gateway to endless possibilities? Yes. Great ideas all and very wise. And they all made sense when I was in the calm of prayer but not nearly so comforting in the harsh light of day. And so I teeter between my Tarzan swing and my Indy leap. Back and forth, back and forth until it hits me to ask not how Tarzan swung and Indy leapt but why they did. Why did Tarzan choose to swing and Indy leap?

Because Indiana Jones was raised by a father who believed.And Tarzan? Well, he was raised by apes.And therein lies the difference. The loving father of faith makes all the difference in the world. It is true: there are no certainties this year. I cannot see farther than what’s in front of my nose. But I believe and I hope in a loving Father who walks with me in the present and waits for me in the future.

I look at the chasm that is 2013 before me. I muster my resolve. I take deep steadying breaths. I close my eyes and whisper a silent prayer. I put my hand over my wildly beating heart. And I leap.

Cue in the Indiana Jones movie theme.

About Nancy Unchuan Toledo

When Nancy started teaching high school at age 21, she didn’t really think she’d make a career out of it. She was right. Ten years later and she realized teaching isn’t her career, it’s her passion. Writing is her passion, too, and she writes a bi-monthly column for the Freeman. Mostly she writes about her family, her friends, her students, her experiences in teaching, her love of books and her faith. Because those are the things that she cares about the most–although not necessarily in that order.

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